Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

GoodReads: Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women.

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Source: Publisher
Expected publication date: 14/10/14


"Now, that's womanhood perfected, Percy my boy. That's the type of girl you want. Silent. Alluring. Submissive."

Am I surprised that I loved this book? Nope. I fell head over heels in love with Winters' debut, In the Shadow of Blackbirds and was expecting The Cure for Dreaming to be every bit as amazing. 

The Cure for Dreaming is set in the beginning of the 20th Century, in a time where upon leaving school women were expected to marry and be domestic house wives. However, this did not stop them from dreaming. Olivia, the headstrong mc is among these dreamers, she has, as her dad refers to them "unfeminine" dreams about college and the women's suffrage. This is where Henri, a turn of the century hypnotist comes into the story. Wanting to rid his daughter of her unfeminine dreams Olivia's dad hires Henri to cure her. And what follows from there? Well, you'll just have to read the book for yourself to find out. I will say this, however: Olivia's journey had me feeling a blaze of different emotions, and although Olivia's dads actions angered me I have to admit that by the end of the book I kind of felt sorry for him. In his own way, I think he genuinely thought what he was doing was best for Olivia.

I easily related to Olivia. Ever felt awkward around cute guys? *nods* Read your favourite book (in Olivia's case, Dracula) way too many times to count? *nods again* Yep, I definitely see a piece of myself in Olivia. Moving onto the the romance: I thought it was lovely, but what I loved most about it was that the mc wasn't defined by it. 

If there was was only one word I could use to describe this book it would atmospheric. Centered around an important movement: the women's suffrage, The Cure for Dreaming is littered with photos which really add to the tone of the story. I enjoyed the way in which Winters portrayed this piece of history, she presented a society in which there was a growing fight for the right to vote, and where women were no longer content being silent and obedient house wives.

The ending was bittersweet, it made me feel both sad and hopeful. All in all, The Cure for Dreaming was a deliciously compelling read full of atmosphere and allure.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

GoodReads: After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.
Source: Edelweiss
Expected publication date: 16/09/14

"What can I say?" she said, her voice growing fainter. "This damsel loves rescuing princes in distress."

The Perilous Sea was an amazing sequel, and I'm not even surprised. To say that I loved The Burning Sky would be an understatement. Ever since I finished reading it I've been eagerly anticipating the release of the sequel, a sequel I just knew would deliver. Which, of course, it did. Oh yes, no middle book syndrome here, this is a solid sequel that is every bit as good as the first book.

The Perilous Sea alternates between Titus's and Iolanthe's POV in the present and seven weeks in the future. This created a sense of intrigue as I was constantly wondering how they got to that point in the future. Plus, it didn't take too long to get back into the story. I remember being only 20% into the book and thinking wow I'm even not that far in and already there's swoons and a shocking twist. The unpredictable twists, continued on one after another and oh my gosh I loved it. Just as I came to a conclusion about something I was proved wrong. Every chapter ended on such a note that I just had to continue on to find out what happens next. The phrase I'm sure us bookworms are accustomed to thinking "just one more chapter" definitely applies to this book. Furthermore, The Perilous Sea also provides us with answers to some burning questions. From learning the truth about Iolanthe's past to finding out more about Titus's mothers vision.

Both Titus and Iolanthe are likable characters with strengths and flaws. I loved that Titus wasn't afraid to admit when Iolanthe was better at something than he was. Further to this I liked the sense of equality between them, it wasn't just Titus saving/supporting Iolanthe, nope, she also did the saving/supporting. It just shows that they're both capable and strong characters. The romance was also wonderfully done, Thomas threw obstacles their way without bringing  in a dreaded love triangle. One of my favourite things about this romance is the banter. It makes me smile, and adore these two characters even more. If there ever were two people who could be called ship worthy it would be them. 

All the puzzle pieces start coming together, and the book ends on an exciting note. I honestly can't wait to read the final book in the trilogy! (Also: I re-read The Burning Sky before jumping into The Perilous Sea and it really helped me re-call things, so if you can I would definitely recommend re-reading it.)


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Mini review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

GoodReads: You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out. 

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Source: NetGalley

I admit I don't usually read YA horror, but there was something compelling about the summary of this book that made me request it.  The Girl from the Well is a book that people are either going to love or hate. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category. 

My biggest issue, I think, was the writing style. The book is told from multiple 3rd person perspectives which made it hard to connect to the story. Furthermore, it changed perspectives without warning - I would have preferred a break in the paragraph or a new chapter each time the perspective changed as this would have made it easier and less confusing to differentiate the narrators.

On a more positive note Chupeco did write some creepy (and very vivid) horror scenes which I'm sure horror fans will appreciate. To conclude I would recommend The Girl from the Well to people who enjoy horror movies and don't mind 3rd person perspectives.


Friday, 1 August 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#21)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga over at Tynga Reviews.


Dangerous Girls by Abigail Hass
I love a good YA thriller! 

The Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
This book has received mixed reviews...personally, I enjoyed it. :)

Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne
I don't often read novella's, but I had to read this as it's from James' POV. James is a character I found interesting in Midnight Thief and wanted to know more about. 

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
This was recommend to me by Nick, I'm hoping to start it soon. :)

For review:

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
As expected this book was amazing!

Have you read/do you plan to read any of these books? :)

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

GoodReads: The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for. 

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Source: Edelweiss
Expected publication date: 02/09/14


The Jewel, with its intriguing premise had the potential to be amazing, but sadly it failed in execution.

My main issue with The Jewel was the romance. There was a horrible case of insta-love between Violet and Ash, the love interest. Violet is immediately attracted to him, after having one conversation (in which she discovers their mutual love for music) she comes to the conclusion that he "gets her", and not long after they are kissing and saying the L word. In the pages that follow all Violet can think about (when she should be thinking about more important thing) is Ash, she is literally consumed by the guy. There is no build up or tension, they hardly no each other yet they're confessing their loyalty and love to one another. Then there's the jealousy that overcomes her when Ash interacts or even looks at another girl, and the constant thoughts about how attractive he is and whether he is looking at her. This is what I mean when I say it was an all-consuming romance:

Ash's face appears in my mind for the hundredth time in the last few hours.

I've never thought much about kissing, but the idea of Ash's lips against mine-I giggle.

I wonder if Ash will think I look pretty.

It's only been  a couple of hours since I saw him, but he's somehow even more handsome than I remember. My whole body feels like it's blushing. 

Seriously, it goes on in this vain pages and pages after their first meeting.

Up until the point where she meets Ash, Violet herself wasn't a terrible mc, but having said that she wasn't one I particularly connected with either. She was a bit bland, much like the writing, in my opinion. There was a lot of repetition and clich├ęs.

Overall, I was rather disappointed. 


Thursday, 10 July 2014

Sekret by Lindsay Smith

GoodReads: An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia knows she must hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia. But if she sometimes manipulates the black market traders by reading their thoughts when she touches their skin, so what? Anything to help her survive.

Russia's powerful spy agency, the KGB, is recruiting young people with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. Their mission: protect the Soviet space program from American CIA spies. Why shouldn't the KGB use any means necessary to make the young psychic cooperate? Anything to beat the American capitalist scum to the moon.

Yulia is a survivor. She won't be controlled by the KGB, who want to harness her abilities for the State with no regard for her own hopes and dreams. She won't let handsome Sergei plan her life as a member of elite Soviet society, or allow brooding Valentin to consume her with his dangerous mind and even more dangerous ideas. And she certainly won't become the next victim of the powerful American spy who can scrub a brain raw—and seems to be targeting Yulia.

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Source: NetGalley


As well as being a fan of YA historical fiction (Poppy and Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper, Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys) I am a huge fan of books that feature spies. In particular, I love the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz and the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore. For a long time now I've been wanting to read a YA book that features a female mc who is a spy (yes, yes I know about the Gallagher Girls series, but I don't think it would by my cup of tea). So, it's no surprise that I was excited about Sekret.

Unfortunately, though, Sekret wasn't quite what I was hoping it would be. The opening of the book was promising, there was intrigue and it was obvious that Smith has done her research. She painted a vivid picture of the Cold War and Russian culture.  However, as the story progressed I became bored. This is because the pacing was excruciatingly slow, and a million questions were hopping around in my head, half of which I had hoped would have been answered by the time I reached the half way or three quarter mark.

I never actually became too attached to any of the characters, Yulia included. When I don't feel anything towards the the characters, more importantly the mc well then there's obviously something wrong. They weren't, in my opinion, very well developed. And as for the romance I guess it could be called sweet, but honestly I wasn't really touched by it. If I'm honest, it was almost forgettable.

All in all, Sekret was not for me, and I still hold onto the hope that one day there will be a YA book with a female spy as the mc that will wow me.


Monday, 23 June 2014

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

GoodReads Summary: On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

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Expected publication date: 08/07/14


Despite flying through The Queen of the Tearling, I had some issues with it. My main issue was with the mc, Kelsea. She is described as being plain, and her constant whining about this really got on my nerves. I mean, Alina from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is also described as plain, and although she has moments of insecurity at least she doesn't go on about it. Further to this, some of the things Kelsea thought and said rubbed me the wrong way. Here are some examples:
How could a woman who looked so old still place so much importance on being attractive?
Um, what? This made me so angry, because so what if you're old and care about how you look? Personally, if I saw an old women like that I would think 'good for you' not why is she even bothering.
Kelsea saw now that there was something far worse than being ugly: being ugly and thinking you were beautiful.
I mean, really? Ugly people can't have confidence, is what you're basically saying.

There is also this point in the book where basically orders her guards to snatch a tiara of a noble she does not like the look of. I did not care for this judgmental side of hers. Furthermore, at another point she demands that her guards go rescue her collection of books, despite the fact that 1) the journey would be very dangerous for them and 2) she can't afford to lose any of them. As a book lover myself, I get wanting to save books, but would I put lives at risk in order to retrieve them? No. There's being stubborn, and then there's being a stupid brat.

Despite all this, however, Kelsea wasn't completely unlikable. I admired her strength and her desperate need to save her land. Plus, there are six more books to come, so there is definitely room for development. 

Although there is no romance in this book, Kelsea does have a crush on an intriguing and mysterious character. When she meets this character he bluntly points out that she is too plain for him, but as the story progresses it seems he is continually surprised by her. Although if his growing interest/respect for her is of a romantic nature it's hard to tell. Even though I did not care for Kelsea's crush on him, because in my opinion she did not know him well enough to form such a crush, I'm curious to see which direction their relationship goes in future books.

Apart from the guy Kelsea is crushing on, another fascinating character is the Red Queen, a tyrant who rules the nearby land of the Mortmesme, and who I guess is the ultimate villain.

The world building in the The Queen of the Tearling is a little weird, and although I didn't have a problem with it I can certainly see why some might. The strange fantasy world melds together three concepts: historical, future, and modern.  For example, there's mentions of castles and horsing riding, but also of more modern stuff like the Harry Potter series. It's confusing and undeveloped (I have many questions, like how did the world come to be the way it is?), but as I said before there are 6 more books to come, so hopefully the world building will be built upon and better explained in future books.
The Queen of the Tearing is far from perfect. However, if you were to ask if I'm going to pick up the sequel  my answer would be yes, because even though I can't say I loved it, I did enjoy it. 

Fun fact: Warner Bros and Harry Potter producer David Heyman, have acquired film rights to the entire series and Emma Watston has been cast as Kelsea.

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